Last Updated Oct 19, 2010 12:24 PM EDT
We gave birth to our company blog in 2009 and euthanized it in 2010. I don't miss it and (for now) I don't need it.
A Forrester Research study reported that 84% of people think corporate blogs suck, and that business blogs are the least trusted or influential media sources. So we only had a 16% chance anyway. Now, before you let fly with the notes telling me I'm living in a cave, and make me change my email address to escape the ridicule... or social media service pitches... hear me out.
I'm not living in a cave. I understand new media and am not denying its importance by any means. I'd be a great-big-idiot if I took that position. My company has a good virtual life. Our Web stats are excellent by industry standards, our site is built to support a company 10 times our size, we get great search results, and we are working on other online initiatives. We are proud of our reputation as communicators. But blogging is a completely different animal than any other form of communication, and it humbled us.
We're not alone: There is a huge bandwagon effect when it comes to blogging. Every company says "we've gotta have a blog," just like so many other "gotta haves." We felt that way, too. But from the beginning, we did not want to have a typical corporate blog, braggin' on ourselves or breaking the news that something was "20% off, today only." We wanted a blog that offered interesting, mostly non-commercial content to our customers, who are travelers and techies.
To keep it real, we invited writers from outside the company to submit the majority of the posts. And they did, enthusiastically. They took the time to write great pieces on a variety of subjects. Our graphic designer made it look beautiful. We promoted it every way we could. But after months of patience and effort, it just wasn't doing much of anything. It was getting a negligible fraction of the traffic we get on our website, referring negligible traffic back, wasn't helping our search results, and wasn't justifying the time our contributors put into it. So we turned the lights off, for now, to re-think a bunch of things before we try again. I'm OK with that.
Some -- very few, but some -- companies have great blogs, and obviously some get amazing results from their efforts. But still, a great blog does not necessarily do anything for a business.
I basically ignore corporate blogs, but one that I do like is that of Bob Parsons, CEO of domain registrar GoDaddy. Yet though I love his blog, I've never done business with his company. Like so many TV commercials, Parsons' blog is entertaining and engaging, but doesn't change my buying habits.
I am also friendly with some well-known, influential and successful non-corporate bloggers. Ask them, or read a book like Blogging Heroes, and you'll hear one overriding theme:
Don't blog unless you have something interesting or worthwhile to say.
The rule applies whether blogging is your business or you're blogging about your business. And the cold truth is that most companies, outside the realm of their products or services, don't have much to say.
Even if you do have stuff to say, there are other things to consider before your company jumps on the blogwagon:
- You must keep it moving, alive and fresh. If you can't make a real and permanent commitment, don't even start. A neglected blog is worse than none at all. When I see the most recent post dated months ago, I envision a company with dust balls blowing through its corridors.
- A blog should not be just a more casual version of your site. This is the number one thing wrong with most company blogs. You have a new product? Something's on sale? Your stuff is great? That's what your Web site is for. As a recent Entrepreneur article said, "the best corporate blogs aren't created for the purpose of marketing."
- Devote the people, time and other resources you need, and make it important. Don't just fire off emails saying "we haven't posted in a while, someone please put something up." You're either serious about it or not.
There are plenty of good examples and resources out there if you are serious about corporate blogging. Social media is a full-blown industry -- the Madison Avenue of our era. Just make sure you have a reason, a plan, and something to say that you're not already saying elsewhere.
In my company, we often say "just because you can doesn't mean you should" -- challenging ourselves to be sure we are making the most of our resources. But the opposite is also true: Just because you should doesn't mean you can.
Please share your own blogging stories -- successes, failures, advice -- they're all welcome. After all, this is a blog.
(Flickr photo by Roland)